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Rock Street, San Francisco

The thin windows threaten to crack with every raindrop that attacks them like gunfire. The wind tears the trees from their roots and hot flashes of lightning illuminate the sky like bombs. All the homes are depleted of electricity, compelling everyone to halt their activities for the night and instead huddle by their windows to watch nature’s concert. Amidst the dimly lit bedroom lies a mahogany desk, messily decorated with a seemingly endless supply of textbooks and notes. Not even a 9.0 earthquake would budge her parents’ academic expectations. They trained their eyes to capture every missing point in her test scores. But what they failed to notice was her sketchbook hidden under the mountain of school work.In my parents’ eyes, my dedication to art is my greatest vice. It is merely a distraction holding me back from studying more hours to become a doctor. But in my eyes, art is my instrument that allows me to be human rather than a marionette playing out their dreams. My early obsession with animated films was what first sparked my love for art. I began drawing my favorite characters long before I could even write. My relationship with art further strengthened as I struggled during my childhood. I suffered through seven years of severe depression and five suicide attempts. I was unable to socialize with classmates resulting in me having no friends. All it took was my trustworthy sketchbook to keep me company and calm me down from anxiety attacks during lunchtime. I decided at a young age that I did not want to follow the same path as my brothers. My heart sank every time I imagined myself studying for over a decade to work a repetitive nine to five job. I spent my lonely childhood days learning how to draw through YouTube videos because my parents refused to enroll me in classes. I pushed myself to relearn how to draw with my right hand when I broke my left. Whenever I slipped into artistic blocks, I challenged myself to experiment with new mediums. I expanded to oils, watercolor, Chinese calligraphy, digital drawing, photography, and makeup. I also used art as a way to help others. My best friend struggled with feeling talentless because she always failed to meet her parents’ high expectations. She kept a knife on her bedside and would cut her arm to handle her pain. I persuaded her to replace her knife with a pencil and taught her how to draw. I explained how she would not only develop a new skill but also try a different form of therapy. She declares that I revolutionized her life because she has fallen deeply in love with art as well. She now sells her work and plans to become an art therapist.My best friend inspired me to continue helping others with my creative work. I strive to use what I learn from my experiences as an artist to create innovations that benefit society and its people. Contemporary art carries a reputation for being rubbish, but I aspire to reform these negative stereotypes. I want to teach the world that art is fundamental to progressivism. Society has long prioritized financial and institutional capital for solving its problems; however, I hold that creative capital will have the most significant impact in the long run. And this is why art is imperative. Society has regarded art as a nicety for too long— the first budget cut and the last investment. There is no discipline that nurtures and ignites imagination and allows creativity and innovation to thrive more than art. There is no other method that connects across disparities in cultures and captivates our shared values more than art. There is no investment that connects us together, moves us to action, and fortifies our ability to make collective choices more than art.

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